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Students, alumni, faculty and staff recommend some of their favorite songs.
Few art forms are as transportable, or as immediate, as music. With nearly all of our acts of community and goodwill necessarily long-distance for the time being, the time-honored tradition of making a mixtape—or, these days, a playlist—for a friend, loved one, or just anyone who cares to listen may be more popular than ever. (Check that last link for a playlist by SVA alumnus and photographer Justine Kurland.)
In that spirit, we've created this SVA community mixtape—a collection of songs recommended by various students, alumni, faculty and staff, and sequenced by Jen Fahey, a BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects student and station manager at WSVA, the College's radio station, which continues to broadcast via wsvalive.com. To listen to the mix, visit WSVA's Spotify account, stream the playlist below or click the links after each title in the text.
I would nominate any song by Queen. The lyrics are often related to fairy-tale or intense feelings, which are helpful for art students like us to get inspiration from it. ... You will never get bored, even if you listen to them all day.
—Siqi Wu (student, BFA Animation)
This song gives me the feeling like I am on a vacation and I think that's what everyone needs right now!
—Jen Fahey (student, BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects), station manager, WSVA
I believe its lyrics represent Sam's attitude towards music-making and I can really relate to it, especially this:
I don't have
Money on my mind
Money on my mind
I do it for
I do it for the love
When I was down and troubled, this song cheered me up.
—Taizhi Chen (student, BFA Illustration)
This song always lifts my mood and makes me get up and dance and just be in the present. During these uncertain moments we are moving through, it's been a regular on my playlist.
—Nika Lopez, manager of marketing and outreach, SVA Continuing Education
The guitar sound is so sick, it's crazy. And it's Ozzy Osbourne—like, who's not going to listen to this song?
The songwriter urges his lover, with everything in his power, to stay at home with him. ... I think it’s a timely and lovely song, to think of staying as an act of love and emotional support.
—Grace Kwon (student, MFA Design for Social Innovation)
Carved in the concrete just outside of 209 East 23rd Street is something along the lines of, "Stoop Kids were here." I assume it's these guys, and this whole album is one cohesive jam worth the listen.
—Sydney Burns (student, BFA Illustration), website coordinator, WSVA
It's bright, catchy and clever, and I feel like it's perfect for anyone who doesn't have a quarantine partner right now (and is totally fine with it).
—Jason Koth, SVA registrar
The best songs for me tell an entire story, and this one is so evocative. It gives me goosebumps every time I listen.
It makes me feel like the sun outside is waiting on us to go out there and feel it. Even though we can't go out now, we can dream about how great it's gonna be when we’re all together again with a tiny speaker on a blanket on the beach, holding hands and passing drinks. This feels hopeful and warm, so I listen to it.
It's super-catchy, upbeat and playful. The lyrics are funny; the song gives me a happy summertime vibe.
—Jen Liang, assistant director, Visual Arts Press
John Prine, a great singer-songwriter who died from COVID-19 complications, wrote this heartbreaking song about the invisibility of the old among us.
It's been hard to find music that makes sense in this moment of quarantine. It's music like this that reminds me of what the warm weather can be, that keeps me high.
—Hunter Vasquez (student, BFA Photography and Video), DJ, WSVA
It's entirely possible that I've heard this song a thousand times over the course of my life. And yet, each and every time I listen to it, whatever my mood, I still react the same way, with a smile that simply cannot be denied. Brimming with energy and optimism, it represents the thrill and promise of love—and thus, life itself.
Right now I'm all about survival songs. Something uplifting and inspirational. Plus it's Stevie!
I listen to it as I take my daily neighborhood stroll and it reminds me of the all-night studio sessions I did at SVA when her first album came out and I had the songs on repeat.
Although most of his songs are very melancholy, this one is uptempo and feels like an escape!
Everyone should hear it once.
I have a "happy-making" playlist that I started compiling way back in in the fall of 2016 (no particular reason why then in particular, ahem), and I turn to it when I need a little lift. Usually I'll do it simultaneously when I'm about to climb into a very hot bath.
This is one of my favorite tracks, like, ever. I came on this from watching the HBO series The Young Pope. (The show has a terrific soundtrack.) It's just a wonderful mix of old school and modern. It feels like an updated '60s song.
—Chris Stein (1973 Fine Arts), co-founder and guitarist, Blondie, photographer and author (Point of View: Me, New York City, and the Punk Scene; read SVA's Q&A with Stein here)
I listen to it whenever I'm feeling anxious or need a reminder that no matter what happens, my life is on track and everything will be okay.
—Rayon Richards (BFA 2004 Photography), photographer
Urgent and tender; chaotic and melodic at the same time—it's art. I put it on, especially when I'm stuck—sonic Claritin for seasonal writing fog. "Attaboy" is from the great 2011 album The Goat Rodeo Sessions. The term "goat rodeo," by the way, is a rousing sentiment for the times. According to Urban Dictionary, it's "about the most polite term used by aviation people (and others in higher-risk situations) to describe a scenario that requires about 100 things to go right at once if you intend to walk away from it."
I first heard this a few years ago and have loved it ever since. It seems, at least in part, to be about how art can be a mystery even to the artists who make it. But the song itself is so beautiful and transfixing that what it's "about" doesn't really matter. (Just like art!)
—Greg Herbowy, associate director, SVA Communication
This song reminds me of my last year at SVA—a very cold winter and I listened to this all the time on the radio ... WBLS, of course.
—Jennifer Steinhauer (BFA 1990 Communication Arts), author (The Firsts: The Inside Story of the Women Reshaping Congress) and staff reporter, The New York Times
This song is titled after an island in Yemen, but I think it has more to do with the feeling of travel and escape than any specific place.
This song is uplifting and, with social distancing occurring, it's fitting to have something that brings us together in spirit.
—William Berrios, director, SVA Financial Aid
I've been a fan of DJ Shadow since high school, which was many moons ago. Shadow's latest album is a return to form, and reminds me of when I would zone out at my desk and draw for hours. Seems like that's particularly relevant now.
You could choose any Górecki song. He's just amazing.
I find myself in repose while listening to Max Richter's Sleep. The entire album—eight hours and 204 songs long—is worth a listen, for as long as it takes you. Richter conceived of an album that could be listened to while asleep, and I think this is the perfect soundtrack for taming our disquiet.
When I listen to this song, I feel I am in nature, without a sense of the time of day. This song gives me a feeling of relaxation, but at the same time, it gives me passion. It makes me very balanced in a creative way in this quarantine.
—Tatsunori Hosoi (student, BFA Photography and Video)
For information on SVA community resources during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, visit sva.edu/coronavirus.